Hundreds of family members, civic leaders and community partners gathered at the Clarion Inn in Orlando to bid farewell to more than 200 Army Reserve Soldiers from the 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) during a deployment ceremony conducted Feb. 24, 2018.
“You are looking at an amazing formation of Soldiers who can take on any mission,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Deborah L. Kotulich, commanding general, 143d ESC, addressing the troops and their guests packed into the Clarion Inn’s Grand Ballroom. “I for one couldn’t be more grateful or proud of their tireless effort.”
The ceremony honored the men and women of Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 143d ESC, who volunteered to leave their friends and loved ones to manage sustainment operations for three peacekeeping operations within Central Command's theater of operations.
“We will soon oversee the sustainment needs of hundreds of units conducting countless missions throughout Central Command’s Theater of Operations,” said Kotulich. “We have some of the finest military minds who will manage this complex logistical system that ensures the world’s finest military is properly supplied and equipped to overcome any adversary.”
Although their deployment will not officially begin until the Soldiers board a plane bound for their pre-mobilization site, Kotulich recognized the precious time her Soldiers sacrificed to prepare for the year-long journey.
“We went through not one but two major exercises in 2017,” said Kotulich. “The meticulous planning, coordination and execution for those exercises took place as the Army Reserve began implementing Ready Force X, a readiness program designed to prepare hundreds of units to deploy in the shortest time possible. The [operational tempo] caused by this major transformation proved challenging but absolutely necessary to ensure our Army Reserve is the most capable, combat-ready and lethal federal reserve force in our nation’s history.”
To better provide a proper sendoff of ceremonial proportions, the 143d ESC turned to several community organizations who always stand ready to support America’s service members. Volunteers from United States Overseas Central Florida served cakes and refreshments, while the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2093 Community Band played popular patriotic tunes.
“It was a great honor to provide live music for these brave men and women,” said Wilbur C. Smith, the band’s director. “It’s a small but ‘harmonious’ way to express our gratitude.”
The formation’s dismissal signaled the Soldiers’ to find their friends and loved ones huddled throughout the ballroom. As parents, spouses and children embraced their Soldier one last time, Kotulich recognized the many sacrifices that will soon settle on those who must remain on the homefront.
“We owe our families a debt of gratitude for the love and support that allows each and every one of us to do this,” said Kotulich. “We understand this isn’t easy for them, but their efforts give us the strength to proceed forward and achieve more than we thought possible.”